Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
The defending champions are in Group F and they look shoulders and head above the other trio in the pool.
That said, nothing is given in this group as the other teams are capable of springing one form of surprise or the other.
The defending champions showed they were ready to defend their World Cup. They picked 10 wins from 10 games in qualifying, scoring 43 goals, a European record, on the way to booking a place in Russia.
FIFA ranking: 1
Best Position: Champions 1954, 1974, 1990, 2014
Average age: 26.7
Coach: Joachim Low
Key players: Toni Kroos, Mario Gomez
Nickname: Die Mannschaft (The Team)
Conclusion: We know what they capable after they won the Confederations Cup in 2017 with a second-string side. The statistics are however against them, as no team who won the dress rehearsal has ever gone to win the main event.
Will Low and his squad rewrite history in Russia? The World is eagerly waiting.
In qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, Mexico clinched the ticket with as much as three games to spare. They would be a force to reckon with once they maintain that form at the World Cup proper.
Average Age: 30.0
Key Players: Javier Hernandez
Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio
FIFA Ranking: 15
Best position: Quarterfinals: 1970, 1986
Nickname: El Tri
Conclusion: Reaching the Quarterfinals at this tournament will be considered a success for El Tri. They have held so much promise but have always come up short, having been knocked out in the round of 16 for the last six editions.
Sweden qualified for the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 12 years, something there were unable to do throughout the career of talisman, Zlatan Ibrahimović. They stunned Italy at the playoffs to ensure they got to Russia.
FIFA Ranking: 24
Best Position: Runners-up 1958
Coach: Joanne Andersson
Key Players: Marcus Berg, Emil Forsberg
Conclusion: The Swedes do not have a semblance of a side that can go far in Russia. With barely any world acclaimed star, in the mould of Ibra, it’s hard seeing a way this team can get out of the group where they face Germany and Mexico. So, it’s likely the Swedes play three matches and head home.
Qualifying for Russia was tricky for this Oriental nation as they needed the help of Iran to beat Syria while they played out a tense 0-0 with Uzbekistan.
Average Age: 27.2
FIFA Ranking: 57
Best Position: Fourth place 2002
Key players: Son Heung-Min, Ki Sung-Yi, Lee Chung-Yong
Coach: Shin Tae-yong
Conclusion: This team is good enough to get out of this group, but it’s going to be tough having to face two countries that are clearly better in Germany and Mexico.